Eagan, MN – Rioters shut down an event that was intended to facilitate open communication between law enforcement and citizens on Tuesday night.
The Eagan Police Department (EPD) said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that it planned the Aug. 4 “community conversation” in order to provide a forum where police leaders could listen to residents’ “concerns surrounding policing.”
Police said they were aware that pro-Black Lives Matter demonstrators intended to show up outside the Eagan Community Center to rally ahead of the police-hosted event, but were assured there would not be any trouble.
But as the rally got underway, members of the mob began vandalizing a bandshell area and the Eagan Tribute and Memorial Plaza in Central Park located outside the community center, according to police.
Photos released by EPD showed a life-size, bronze statue of a police officer that had been spray-painted with various colors and obscenities.
The letters “BLM” were scrawled across the statue’s chest in orange.
A second photo showed one of the rioters spray-painting an obscenity in large letters on a wall.
The mayhem caused by the crowd ultimately led EPD to cancel the community meeting.
“Organizers of the protest indicated this was going to be a peaceful rally, but as you can see from the attached photos, this was far from the case,” the EPD said.
Police asked the public for help in identifying those responsible for the vandalisms.
The Tribute and Memorial Plaza was established in 2011 in honor of law enforcement, military, and firefighters, according to the city’s website.
The memorial includes three life-sized bronze statues – a firefighter carrying his gear, a saluting military member, and a law enforcement officer shielding a frightened child, according to the American Legion Daniel R. Olsen Post 594.
Each statue is accompanied by an inscription block.
“Men and women dedicating themselves to law enforcement do so to protect us from tyranny, advocate on behalf of the rich or poor, and work tirelessly to seek justice for everyone,” the block next to the law enforcement statue reads. “While confronting society’s dangers on our behalf, may they be shielded from harm, maintain the resolve in the face of adversity, and know their community is proud of them.”
The plaza was the result of a joint effort between the Eagan Lioness Club and the American Legion Daniel R. Olsen Post 594.
EPD Chief Roger New said it was his decision to cancel the department’s “Building Bridges and Trust Between Citizens and Law Enforcement” event, according to the Sun This Week.
“It’s in the best interest for my community members and residents to stand down and allow this group to have their space and voice their opinions,” Chief New said. “It’s unfortunate all the damage we sustained as a result.”
The costs associated with repairing the damages are yet to be determined.
Chief New said that finding ways to understand the community’s desires, wants, and needs has been difficult, the Sun This Week reported.
“For the past few months we’ve allowed the community to speak and vent. We have to find an opportunity and time to have a substantive conversation, but that isn’t done by destroying things in our community,” he said. “It’s unfortunate there are people who believe that’s a way to affect change, but you never hear what people have to say.”
Approximately 100 demonstrators attended the gathering, which was dubbed the “No Trust Without Accountability” rally.
The mob demanded that the officers involved in the 2019 shooting death of 23-year-old Abdirahman Aden be fired, indicted, and prosecuted, according to the Sun This Week.
According to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office, Aden was fatally shot by Eagan and Bloomington police after pulled a gun on his ex-girlfriend and subsequently got into a two-hour armed standoff with officers, KARE reported.
Police used less-lethal munitions during the standoff in an effort to subdue him.
“Unfortunately Aden did not surrender and instead got up from a seated position, lunged for the gun near him, picked it up and began to raise his right hand with the gun in it,” the county attorney’s office said, according to KARE. “It was later determined Aden fired the gun after he picked it up.”
Five officers opened fire, hitting Aden 11 times.
“This entire incident, from the time of the deployment of the first flashbang until the lethal rounds were fired, occurred within about six seconds,” the county attorney’s office noted.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said that the officers’ use of deadly force was justified, KARE reported.
The demonstrators alleged that too many officers responded to the standoff, according to the Sun This Week.
They further claimed police would not have used deadly force against Aden if he had been white.
Aden’s family filed a $20 million-plus lawsuit against the involved officers and the cities of Edina, Bloomington, Burnsville and Eagan in July, according to the Sun This Week.